Summary – Wyoming Diminished Value Claims
Statute of Limitations: 4 years
Third Party Diminished Value Claim: Yes
First Party Diminished Value Claim: No, most insurance policies will exclude diminished value
Montana Property Damage Minimum Limits: $20,000 in coverage
Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Diminished Value: Yes, it is optional. It includes coverage for hit and run drivers.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage for Diminished Value: Yes, optional coverage.
Wyoming Small Claims Court Limit: $6,000. Attorney representation and appeals are permitted.
Wyoming Diminished Value Law
Reported law concerning diminished value is scarce in Wyoming. Generally, the ordinary measure of damages for destruction or loss of personal property is the recognized market value of the property. Reposa v. Buhler, 770 P.2d 235, 238 (Wyo. 1989). Damages must be proven with a reasonable degree of certainty. Id. While exact certainty is not required, remote, conjectural or speculative damages will generally be insufficient.
In Meredith GMC, Inc. v. Garner, 78 Wyo. 396, 328 P.2d 371 (Wyo. 1958) the Wyoming Supreme Court cited with approval Restatement of Torts § 928 (1939). It provides:
Where a person is entitled to a judgment for harm to chattels not amounting to a total destruction in value, the damages include compensation for
(a) the difference between the value of the chattel before the harm and the value after the harm or, at the plaintiff's election, the reasonable cost of repair or restoration where feasible, with due allowance for any difference between the original value and the value after repairs, and (b) the loss of use.
The Wyoming Supreme Court has explained that there are essentially two options for calculating damages, either the “cost-of-repairs method” or the “decrease- market value method.” Aetna Casualty & Sur. Co. v. Langdon, 624 P.2d 240, 242 (Wyo. 1981). The appropriate method varies depending on the circumstances, and there is no absolute rule defining when each method should be applied. Bush v. State, 2003 WY 155, ¶ 25, 79 P.3d 1178, 1187 (Wyo. 2003) (Lehman J. dissenting). As the language of § 928(a) suggests, a plaintiff in Wyoming might be able to seek from a tortfeasor the reasonable costs of repairing a damaged vehicle plus the difference between the original value and the value after repairs.
How to File a Diminished Value Claim in Wyoming
Step 1. Obtain proof of your car's diminished value.
The best way to prove your claim is to hire licensed, highly qualified, competent, and independent diminished value experts. The better the appraisal, the better the chance of the insurance company accepting the appraisal and paying the claim faster and for more money.
Step 2. Submit your documentation (diminished value appraisal) and demand letter for review.
The ideal time is right after you get your vehicle repaired. The sooner you file your diminished value claim, the better. Typically, if the accident wasn’t your fault, you would file a diminished value claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
It’s covered under their property damage liability.
Step 3. Settle your claim.
The role of the claims adjuster is to negotiate the lowest possible settlement for the insurance company. They will either accept your claim, offer a lower settlement, or deny the claim.
To receive the highest settlement, submit as much supporting documentation as possible and negotiate until the insurance company gets firm with their offer.
If you have any questions, please call us at 704-209-7629 or complete a free estimate form to get further assistance with your Wyoming diminished value claim.